Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thoughts on a Double-Race Weekend

I have decided: I am never again running a race where I don’t have either a) someone else running the race with* me or b) someone cheering for me and waiting at the finish line.

I ran two races this weekend on back-to-back days: the Healthy Kidney 10k, sponsored by the New York Road Runners, on Saturday, and the HOHA 5 miler, sponsored by the Hoboken Harriers Running Club, on Sunday. The Healthy Kidney race I ran with my friend M___ (who I originally know from playing volleyball), and the HOHA race I ran with my work running friends T___ and P___.

I didn’t anticipate doing especially well in the Healthy Kidney race, mostly because I’ve been unusually tired lately and also because 10k is a really difficult distance for me: it’s too long to all-out sprint the whole thing (like a 5k), but it’s too short to treat with the endurance/pacing mentality that I use for half marathons (or any run in the double-digits, really). Furthermore, I have only run one other 10k race to date, and I took it out way too fast at the beginning so that by mile 3 I was completely miserable. Consequently, I did not anticipate this being an enjoyable race.

In spite of my foreboding, having M___ on my tail the entire race served as adequate motivation, and helped me to pull out a nearly 7min/mile pace—quite a feat, considering that 6:58/mile is the fastest I’ve ever run a race of any length (it was a 5k). Yes, I felt like I was going to pass out at mile 5, and the last 800m were literally torture, but at least I managed an adequate performance thanks to M___.

Having run such a fast race on Saturday, I was even more skeptical about Sunday’s race. Five miles is nearly as long as a 10k—only 1.2 miles less!—so I sincerely doubted my ability to run any pace under 7:15/mile. However, my competitive spirit got the best of me yet again, because T___ kept creeping up and passing me, and I know I am faster than him, so there was no way I was willing to lose. I managed to pull away about halfway between miles 3 and 4, and thanks to the unusually fast 7min/mile pace T___ forced me to run in order to keep up with him, my determination to beat a girl wearing a blue shirt who I was determined to catch (I could see her in front of me around mile 3, and I managed to finally pull ahead in the last 200m!), and the surprise appearance and motivating cheering of another work friend B___, I somehow finished the race in under 34 minutes—a minute faster than what I ran in 2009.

These two races could have been miserable, had I run them alone. By myself, there is nothing to focus on except bodily pain and the frustration of not being able to push myself to run any faster. Friends, however, are both motivating and inspiring. While I cannot quite say that I ran these races “for” my friends, being with them made all the difference. And that’s the kind of difference I want to feel in every race.

Here are my results from the Healthy Kidney Race. (HOHA results to come.)

Race LengthFinishing TimeAverage PaceOverall PlaceGender Place (All Women) Age Group Place (F20-24)
6.2 miles43:557:24/mile 762/7,82681/3,726 12/312

* Note: In this context, "with" does not necessarily mean racing in physical proximity; it merely means running the same race and agreeing to meet up before and afterwards. Similar paces are preferable but not mandatory.


Anonymous said...


It's nice to discover the observations you made about the presence of friends.

Miss Arianna said...

i totally agree with you. I've never had someone cheer me on, but I just ran my first race with someone and I definitely pushed harder! Too bad I didn't see him after mile 3... and it was a half marathon. haha.